Game Mechanics

A decade ago, a band of occult investigators battled against the summoning of an ancient and monstrous evil. They failed. Now you must piece together the puzzle and finish what they could not. The stakes are high, and so is the price to pay. Can you do it?

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Game Mechanics

Postby Overlord87 » Sat Nov 21, 2015 2:55 pm

So, since most people are new to play-by-forum and/or Trail of Cthlhu, I'm making this topic to give some information on how we'll handle some in-game stuff.

Quickstart rules here: ... _Rules.pdf

1) Investigative Abilities: when you want to use an investigative ability, write a post describing your investigator's actions (or words and gestures, in case of interpersonal abilities) and add as a spoiler or with an ooc tag the ability or abilities you're using. Since there is no possibility of failing while using an investigative ability in ToC, there's no need to roll dices. I'll send you the results of your investigation via private message. Make sure you have free space to receive them.
A quick example right below.

John kneels next to the body. He is no medic, but has seen more than his fair share of bodies in the years. He takes his time to analyze accurately the body and pick up whatever information he can.

[OOC: John uses the abilities Forensics and Evidence Collection on the body]

2) Investigative Spends: sometimes it is possible to spend one or more points from your pool of investigative abilities to obtain additional informations. In this case, after you perform the original examination using the abilities you chose, I will inform you, also via private message, that there is the possibility of a spend. You will then tell me if you wish to do so.
Always remember two things:
1) no essential clue will ever be given with a spend; only additional informations that can make your life easier or make you look cool.
2) even if you reach 0 points in an investigative ability pool, you can still use that ability with success any time you need - but you won't be able to do any more spends until you refresh the pool (usually between a chapter of the campaign and the next).

3) Rolling the dices: any website is fine with me as long as you can link the results. I personally use this one: you need to create an account, then select Roll some Dice, insert the informations needed. In ToC only a single d6 is used for each roll, sometimes with modifiers, so insert 1d6+X in the "Dice to Roll" line. Then you can link the results like this:

4) Stability shocks: when needed, I will ask you to perform a Stability roll against a possible Stability loss. I will not tell you the entity of the loss you're facing. There is a table in the quickstart rules defining a baseline for the possible losses, so you should refer to that and evaluate the actual loss you're facing. Then you can decide if you want to spend points from your pool to boost the roll, and how many points you want to spend.

Ok, this is what comes to mind right now. I'll add more if needed. If you have any questions about anything, post them right here ;)
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Re: Game Mechanics

Postby Overlord87 » Sat Nov 28, 2015 4:38 pm

A couple things that I'm not sure are present in the quickstart rules:

1) The description of the "Assess Honesty" ability from the Trail of Cthulhu rulebook. It is an ability that might lead to misunderstandings, so I've copied it. The ability works on "normal" people, those that are too far off from what we consider human, cannot be read with this ability

This is the human capacity to judge and sense motives and character. Basically, this ability allows you to tell if someone is lying to you, and (with a spend) make a decent guess about their motives. Not all lies are verbal. You can tell when a person is attempting to project a false impression through body language.
Certain individuals – con men, actors, professional gamblers, and similar — may be so adept at lying that they never set off your built-in lie detector, or overload it by being “always on.”
Some people believe their own falsehoods. Psychopathic and sociopathic personality types (like most sorcerers turn out to be) and brainwashed cultists lie reflexively and without shame, depriving you of the telltale tics and gestures you use to sense when a person is deceiving you. Those who have communed excessively with the inhuman intelligences of the Mythos will occasionally “read wrong,” but will similarly fail to send any useful signals to a sane watcher.
You can also use Assess Honesty to cold-read a mark for fortunetelling scams, phony séances or mentalist acts, and the like.

2) Some additional information on Drives and how they enter into play, also copy-pasted from the ToC rulebook.

Sometimes the Keeper will refer to your Drive in her scenario notes, as a means of moving the plot ahead and getting you into trouble. This is referred to as a hard driver. Whenever you resist a hard driver, you lose either 4 Stability points or one-third of your Stability pool, whichever is greater. On other occasions a situation tangential to the main storyline would logically trigger your self-destructive tendencies.
This is called a soft driver. It costs you 2 Stability points to resist a soft risk factor. The Keeper is always allowed to invoke a hard driver, whether or not it is literally written down. In a heavily improvised scenario, the “notes” are all in her head in the first place. In neither case do you get to roll Stability to avoid the loss. It is automatic. But for every stick, there is a
stunted, dubious carrot. When your Investigator obeys his Drive, he gains Stability, as he bolsters his own emotional or intellectual justification for action. His actions are authentic, even if they are horribly misguided. When you obey a hard driver, you refresh 2 points in your Stability pool; you refresh 1 point after obeying a soft driver. Gains never increase your pool above your Stability rating.
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Re: Game Mechanics

Postby Overlord87 » Fri Dec 18, 2015 8:31 pm

Additional information from the ToC rulebook.

Cthulhu Mythos

You have begun to piece together
the secret rules of the real world,
rather than the ignorant scrim
of physics and religion. You
recognize the great names, and
the truths they conceal. If you’ve
read a Mythos tome, using this
ability lets you recall any specific
hints or facts from it relevant to
your current situation. If you’re
staring at an ancient alien basrelief,
using this ability lets you
perceive, with a single shocking
gestalt, the horrific history it
Using this ability costs both Sanity
and Stability (see p. 74).
The primary use of this ability
in the course of an investigation
is to “put together the pieces”
and draw upon the terrible
knowledge that you have been
subconsciously suppressing,
achieving a horrific epiphany.
The Keeper provides you with the
result of your intuition, sketching
out the Mythos implications of
the events you have uncovered.
(See p. 74 for further Keeper
guidelines for this ability.) This
may not be the “solution” to the
mystery, although it should allow
you to aim your efforts in the
right direction; at the Keeper’s
discretion, an actual spend
might provide more specific (and
potentially horribly dangerous)

Consider “The Dunwich
Horror” to be a Trail
of Cthulhu adventure.
Professor Armitage uses
his Cthulhu Mythos
ability and realizes that
old Whateley somehow
incarnated Yog-Sothoth
on Earth. In the story, he
then reads Wilbur’s diary
to learn that he needs
both a special incantation
and the Powder of Ibn-
Ghazi to destroy Yog-
Sothoth’s spawn. Had he
not managed to get hold of
the diary, Armitage could
use his Cthulhu Mythos
ability to “intuit” that Yog-
Sothoth must be made
visible before he could
be fully banished, and
spending a point might
tell him that the Powder
of Ibn-Ghazi would
accomplish such a task. No
spend would provide the
formula for the Powder,
except to suggest which
eldritch tome might
conceal similar truths.

Cthulhu Mythos
Ability Use

Using the Cthulhu Mythos ability
(see p. 34) to “piece together
fragments of dissociated
knowledge” and gain insight
into an adventure invites the
loss of both Stability and (if the
discovery is terrifying enough)
Sanity. You cannot make a test
to avoid this loss. The degree
of loss does not depend on the
number of Cthulhu Mythos pool
points spent (if any), but on the
nature of the revelation.
The Keeper should not enforce
losses if the player deduces the
horrible truth without actually
using his Investigator’s Cthulhu
Mythos ability. This is merely
heads-up thinking, and should
be rewarded. Any player can, of
course, request such a loss for
his Investigator, but it’s easier to
just use Cthulhu Mythos to earn
one and confirm your deduction.
Any Sanity loss from Cthulhu
Mythos use cannot be denied
away – such knowledge comes
from within, and the Investigator
knows it to be accurate.
Use the chart on page 76 as a
guideline, but the Keeper should
take care to handcraft really
powerful revelations to the
individual Investigator.
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Re: Game Mechanics

Postby Overlord87 » Fri Dec 25, 2015 8:00 pm

Some more infos on the Gumshoe game philosophy and how investigative abilities work.

Investigative Abilities

The GuMSHoE engine, which powers the Trail of Cthulhu rules, separates the business of finding the clues from the business of confronting (or running away from) monstrous evil. In a fictional mystery, whether it’s a mystery novel, a straight-up detective show like Columbo, a medical mystery like House, or a police procedural like CSI or Law and Order, the emphasis isn’t on finding the clues in the first place. usually, the heroes are drowning in clues. When it really matters, you may get a paragraph telling you how Holmes crawled around on the carpet with his magnifying glass, or see a montage of seriouslooking dudes with Luminol and Ziploc bags. But the action really starts after the detectives – the Investigators – gather the clues.

Investigative scenarios are not about finding clues. They are about interpreting the clues you do find.

Figuring out the puzzle is hard enough for a group of armchair detectives, without someone withholding half the pieces from them. GuMSHoE, therefore, makes the finding of clues all but automatic, as long as you get to the right place in the story and have the right ability. That’s when the fun part begins, when the players try to put the components of the puzzle together.
Gathering Clues Gathering clues is simple. All you have to do is:
1. Get your Investigator into a scene where relevant information can be gathered,
2. Have the right ability to discover the clue, and
3. Tell the Keeper that you’re using it.
As long as you do these three things, you will never fail to gain a piece of necessary information. It is never dependent on a die roll. If you ask for it, you will get it.
You can specify exactly what you intend to achieve: “I use Art History to see if the idol is authentically Late Minoan.”
You can convey a wider speculation to the Keeper: “I use oral History to find the town drunk and pump him for local legends.” You sensibly guess that the town is weird, but you don’t want to waste time going from nPC to nPC trying to read the Keeper’s mind and figure out which one contains the magic plot pellet. nor should you. In this example, if the Keeper planned on having the local busybody provide the info instead of the local rummy, she can either change the information’s source retroactively or tell you something like: “Before you can talk to old Silas, an interfering bluehair chases him off. Fortunately, she’s eager to spill the dirt on her neighbors’ sketchy family history.”
or you can engage in a more general informational fishing expedition: “I use Evidence Collection to search the alley,” or “I use Chemistry to test the meteorite.”
or, the Keeper might ask if you, or anyone has a particular ability.

Simple Searches

Many clues can be found without any ability whatsoever. If an ordinary person could credibly find a clue simply by looking in a specified place, the clue discovery occurs automatically. You, the reader, wouldn’t need to be a trained investigator to find a bloody footprint on the carpet in your living room, or notice a manila envelope taped to the underside of a table at the local pub. By that same logic, the Investigators don’t require specific abilities to find them, either. When players specify that they’re searching an area for clues, they’re performing what we call a simple search. To perform simple searches, they must narrow down the scope of their examination by specifying a particular area or object within the scene:
• “I look in the roll-top desk.”
• “Is there anything in the tub?”
• “Dr Markesan is checking the bottles in the kitchen.”
on the other hand, characters who do have relevant abilities can glean clues without getting this specific. With Evidence Collection, clues become available to a player simply by being on the scene and indicating that you’re looking for them.

Spends and Benefits

Certain clues allow you to gain special benefits by spending points from the relevant investigative ability pool. Each benefit costs either 1 or 2 points from the relevant pool, depending on the difficulty of the additional action and the scope of the reward. The act of spending points for benefits is called a spend. The Keeper’s scenario notes may specify that you get Benefit X for a 1-point spend, or Benefit Y for a 2-point spend. When asking you if you want to spend, the Keeper always tells you how much it will cost. During your first few scenarios, your Keeper will offer you the opportunity to spend additional points as you uncover these clues. After that it’s up to you to ask if it there’s anything to be gained by spending extra time or effort on a given clue. You can even propose specific ways to improve your already good result; if your suggestion is persuasive or entertaining, the Keeper may award you a special benefit not mentioned in her scenario notes.
Any additional information gained from a spend provides flavor, but is never required to solve the case or move on to a new scene. often a benefit makes your Investigator seem clever, powerful, or heroic. It may allow an ability to take less time than normal, or succeed more flashily. It may grant you benefits useful later in the scenario, frequently by making a favorable impression on nPCs. Additional information can also provide information that is usefully applied to later contests involving General abilities: discovering that shoggoths love electricity, or that your car’s petrol tank is empty, or your gun has been unloaded.
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Re: Game Mechanics

Postby Overlord87 » Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:37 am

Some guidelines from ToC rulebook to roleplay stability losses (it's not mandatory and it's not necessary to roleplay every single loss, but it might add some fun to the game :D ).

Although there is no mechanical effect to losing Stability until your
pool goes below 0, many players enjoy roleplaying the shocks and
edginess of a terrifying encounter. Herewith, then, a few guidelines.

1-2 point loss: You might twitch, or stutter. Your voice could rise a
bit, or you could Very. Explicitly. Stay. In. Control.

3-4 point loss: You might have to stop a bit and hyperventilate.
You’re blinking a lot, and maybe sweating, too. If you talk, you might
run away with your own words. Keep doing something comforting
– rack the slide on your shotgun, hum the Miskatonic fight song, that
kind of thing. That will see you through this.

5-6 point loss: This is serious. You may go into a little fugue state;
déjà vu comes over you, or you get “frame drop” and miss a couple
of seconds. Nothing fatal, no, you’re still good. Nope. If you’re talking,
you might call out some encouragement to your mates! They’re
probably not doing near as well as you! If you’ve got a pre-existing
condition, say a phobia or Shell Shock (see p. 77), you’re hyper-aware
of anything that might trigger it.

7-8 point loss: How are you not shaken yet? You’ve almost
certainly gone into adrenaline shock; your peripheral vision is
gone, and your hands and feet are cold. You may babble personal
confessions (“I’ve always loved you, Tom”) or just shout incoherent
threats. If you can make Interpersonal abilities work at all, they work
more through fear of what you might do next than anything else.
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Re: Game Mechanics

Postby Overlord87 » Fri Mar 25, 2016 7:12 pm

Found a nice combat example that might be useful for those of you new to the system to understand it better. Eternal Lies is not particularly combat-heavy, but there will be more than a few fights in the coming months :D

Dramatis Personae
The consumptive Professor Oberon Lankwiller
Player: Larry
Health 5, [no skill in Firearms], Scuffling 4
Weapon: Webley revolver +0
Hit Threshold: 3

The brash Tag Hunter
Player: Tina
Health 13, Firearms 10, Weapons 8, Scuffling 2
Weapons: Remington M32 double barreled shotgun +1 (+2 point blank, +1 when fired both barrells), machette +0
Hit Threshold: 4 (Athletics is greater than eight)

The zesty Anabelle Swift
Player: Andrew
Health 10, Firearms 8, Scuffling 6, Weapons 4
Weapons: Twin Colt Revolvers +0 (You can fire two revolvers in a Pulp game if your Firearms is 5+), hat pin (-1).

The Ghoul
Health 9, Health 7, Scuffling 9
Hit Threshold: 4 (5 underground)
Weapon: two claws +1 and a bite +0. Two bites in a row means it latches on.

The Investigators are cautiously exploring a tunnel which runs under the Arkham municipal burial ground. They disturb a ghoul which is sucking the marrow from some cracked bones, partially concealed behind a stone slab.
They must all make a 4-point Stability roll when they see the ghoul (you see a supernatural creature up close. After Stability rolls, a combat ensues.

The order of action is determined at the beginning of combat, just once, according to the characters' current pool in their chosen method of combat. This gives us:

The Ghoul
The Prof (he has no Firearms skill so has to decide in advance what to do. He chooses "shoot the Ghoul")

Round 1
Tag gives the ghoul both barrels at point blank range. It has partial cover, so that's +0 (see p. 64). The Ghoul has a Hit Threshold of 5, so Tina spends four points from the Firearms pool to ensure a hit. She rolls a 2 for damage, +4 for the double barreled shotgun fired at point-blank range. The Ghoul's Health tumbles to 3.

The Ghoul launches itself at Tag, and makes three consecutive attacks. It could have divided its attacks between opponents if it preferred.

The Keeper spends 2 points from Scuffling on the first claw and rolls a 3 making 5, a hit for 4 damage. He spends 2 on the second claw, rolls a 5, another hit for 5 damage. Then it's a bite (2-point spend and 5 damage). The Ghoul's Scuffling is now 3. Tag's Health is now -1 - Hurt. In theory, Tag must make a Conciousness roll but the Difficulty is 1 - an automatic success.

Annabelle wants to distract the creature from its feast, so she jabs it with her hat pin, spending all of her 4 Weapons points to ensure a hit. She rolls a 3, causing 1 point of damage (you can effectively miss or do no damage with lesser weapons and fists). The Ghoul has 2 Health points left.

The Professor closes his eyes and squeezes the trigger of the unfamiliar Webley. He has no Firearms skill (see p. 60 sidebar), and unfortunately rolls a 1. The Keeper decides that he shoots himself in the foot. He rolls a 3 - minus 2 because of his unfamiliarity - knocking his Health down to 4.

Round 2
Tag frantically wrestles with the ghoul, trying to hold its festering mouth away from his face. That's Scuffling. He spends his remaining 2 points on his roll. The Difficulty is the ghoul's Hit Threshold (5) plus 1 because Tag is wounded. He needs a 6. He rolls a 2 plus the 2 for his Scuffling, a 4 - not enough. It's not looking good for Tag

The Keeper decides to spend 2 on a ghoul claw roll to finish off Tag. He rolls a 1 - making 3, a miss. He spends 0 on the next roll and gets another 1. He spends the final point on the bite, rolling a 6. As this is is second succesful bite attack, he does double damage (see p. 133 for the ghoul). He rolls a 2, +1 for the bite for a total of 6. Tag's Health tumbles to -7. Tina opts not to make a Conciousness roll for Tag (which would require Health expenditure) and Tag falls into merciful oblivion. He is Seriously Wounded, and requires First Aid and hospitalisation if he survives.

Annabelle opts to fire both pistols at the creature (Pulp). She spends a Firearms point to do this. She spends 3 points on the each roll (as they are imulataneous Andrew needs to decide before rolling both dice), and she rolls 6 and 6 doing 3 points and 1 point of damage. The ghoul only had two points of Health, so it is down.

Larry opt to spends two points of the Professor's First Aid to stabilise Tag. If they can get him out of the crypt, Tag needs to spend a week in hospital recuperating.
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